Kent Rail


Pullman Kitchen Car


The early history of ‘’Ione’’ is virtually identical to sister coach ‘’Zena’’, also part of the VSOE fleet. The vehicle was part of a batch of seven Pullman cars ordered by the GWR from the Pullman Car Co. in 1928, and the construction task was subcontracted to the Metropolitan Cammell Carriage, Wagon & Finance Company of Birmingham. This was the first year in which the latter had begun constructing all-steel vehicles for the British market, and in addition to the GWR order, the company was also responsible for the building of twenty-nine all-steel Pullman cars for the LNER. Hitherto, the GWR had never used Pullman cars on its services, which was in part because the company was content with the quality of its own carriage fleet. Perhaps more significantly, the GWR had a desire to avoid copying its archrival, the Southern Railway, which boasted a large range of Pullman carriages on its network. Of the Grouping companies, the SR and LNER were by far the greatest users of Pullman cars, and this was a trend which continued after nationalisation, within the successor BR Regions.


GWR 1928 Order

Metropolitan Cammell


·         Eunice: First Class Parlour Car (Schedule No. 252)

·         Evadne: First Class Kitchen Car (Schedule No. 258)

·         Ione: First Class Kitchen Car (Schedule No. 255)

·         Joan: First Class Kitchen Car (Schedule No. 256)

·         Juana: First Class Parlour Car (Schedule No. 253)

·         Loraine: First Class Kitchen Car (Schedule No. 257)

·         Zena: First Class Parlour Car (Schedule No. 254)


In the summer 1929 timetable, commencing in May, a series of ‘’Ocean Liner Expresses’’ appeared, running between Millbay Docks, Plymouth, and London Paddington. These were by no means Pullman services; trains were composed of standard GWR coaching stock, with Pullman cars inserted as individual vehicles to provide First Class accommodation. However, the GWR soon showed greater commitment to ‘’proper’’ Pullman trains, and on 8th July of that year, the ‘’Torquay Pullman Limited’’ commenced, of which ‘’Ione’’ and, indeed, ‘’Zena’’, were included. Timings of this all-Pullman service can be found on the Zena page, but it is worth noting that it ran on Mondays and Fridays only, and in spite of its name, operated between Paddington and Paignton. The entire journey time was three hours, fifty minutes, and the ‘’down’’ train stopped at Newton Abbot, Torquay, and Paignton only (the ‘’up’’ service, terminating at Paddington, was simply the reverse). The ‘’Torquay Pullman Limited’’ was not a productive service in its first summer, and the GWR reflected this in 1930, when it shortened the train from eight to five Pullman cars. Unfortunately, the rationalised train continued to struggle, and even those Pullman vehicles that remained on the Ocean Liner Expresses did not pay. Consequently, all Pullman vehicles were withdrawn by the GWR at the end of summer 1930, and were stored out of use for the rest of the year at Old Oak Common. The GWR’s association with the Pullman Car Company ended on 1st January 1931, when its entire Pullman fleet was moved from Old Oak Common to Clapham Junction carriage sidings, via the West London Line. The GWR’s Pullman escapade had not been a waste, however, and the company was inspired to build its own Ocean Saloon carriages, designed by Charles Collett and subsequently assembled at Swindon.

The ex-GWR Pullmans were, naturally, absorbed into the carriage fleet of the SR’s Western Section. They were deployed immediately as standalone vehicles on Ocean Liner Expresses between Waterloo and Southampton Docks, formed amongst standard SR coaching stock. A Sundays-only all-Pullman summer service, the ‘’Bournemouth Belle’’, commenced on 5th July 1931, and this drew all of its carriages from the existing SR Pullman fleet. Indeed, ex-GWR Pullmans were used within the service, which became daily and all-year-round from summer 1936 onwards, but there was general variation in the stock which formed the train: vehicles would alternate between the ‘’Bournemouth Belle’’ and the Ocean Liner Expresses, and replacement Pullmans would be drafted in when others were withdrawn for maintenance and overhaul. Withdrawal of all Pullman services on the SR network, including the Ocean Liner Expresses, occurred on the outbreak of war on 3rd September 1939 (electric Pullmans of the Central Section were given a temporary reprieve between 1940 and 1942 inclusive), and this was to mark the end of ‘’Ione’s’’ association with the SR.

In January 1946, ‘’Ione’’ was re-fitted at Preston Park Works, Brighton, in readiness for its use on the re-launched ‘’Queen of Scots’’ service of the LNER. Industrial action by the National Union of Vehicle Builders saw overhauls of other Pullman cars, also destined for this service, put back significantly, so much that the ‘’Queen of Scots’’ (Kings Cross to Glasgow Queen Street) did not recommence until after nationalisation, on 5th July 1948. The Eastern Region appeared quite fluid in their allocation of Pullman cars, and vehicles would alternate between the various all-Pullman services which departed Kings Cross:

‘’Ione’’ remained on the ex-GNR section of the Eastern Region for its entire British Railways career – sister ‘’Zena’’ had left for the Western Region in 1955, to become part of the ‘’South Wales Pullman’’. At forty years of age, ‘’Ione’’ was withdrawn from service in 1968, and in the following year sold for use at the Standard Gauge Steam Trust at the ex-GWR Works in Tyseley, Birmingham. The carriage had a final asking price of £850 in 1969, which equates to about £10,080 at 2007 prices. Both Pullmans ‘’Ione’’ and ‘’Ibis’’ were purchased from the Tyseley site (which had been absorbed into the ‘’Birmingham Railway Musuem’’) by the VSOE Company in 1981, and taken by road to Carnforth, Lancashire, for restoration. In common with the other restored Pullmans, the internal marquetry of these vehicles was completely refurbished, and the Pullman Standard Bogies on ‘’Ione’’ were replaced with the LNER Gresley type. All vehicles were standardised with air braking and electric train heating (ETH), and stripped of asbestos. ‘’Ione’’ was commissioned into VSOE British Pullman service in December 1982, having been restored to its original GWR format of a First Class Kitchen Car (albeit with toilet facilities removed).

Additional Notes [Ione: As Built]



12th June 2008


''Ione'' is depicted ascending the Folkestone Harbour branch on the return British Pullman working to Victoria,

via Ashford, Tonbridge, and Orpington and Bickley Junctions. David Glasspool



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